Print Worcester: Documenting Worcester's Printing Industry
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BRIEF HISTORIES OF PRINTING COMPANIES CITED IN THIS SURVEY

Worcester

The following information comes from several sources, including the American Antiquarian Society's finding aids, articles and other materials at the Worcester Historical Museum, files of the Worcester Telegram and Gazette, and History of Worcester and Its People, by Charles Nutt, published 1919.

Asa Bartlett Press
Asa Burbank began this company in 1868. In 1873, W. H. Maynard and W. E. Gough joined him and they purchased the business in 1874, calling it Maynard, Gough & Co. In 1912, Charles D. Cady joined the company and took control in 1922. Asa Bartlett joined in 1926 and purchased the business in 1945, changing the name.

Commonwealth Press
In 1882, Oliver B. Wood bought a half interest in W. H. Sanford & Co., and the name was changed to Sanford & Wood. Soon afterward Wood became sole proprietor and operated the business as Oliver B. Wood - Printer. In 1911 the name was changed to Commonwealth Press. Wood began business at 3 Maple Street, then moved to 50 Foster Street. In 1913 Commonwealth bought out Blanchard Press and moved to 25 Foster Street. In 1923, Commonwealth, along with Davis Press and J. S. Wesby & Sons, built the Printers Building at 44 Portland Street. Wood's son Hamilton joined the business in 1910 and later became president. The company stayed in the family throughout its life, with Norman S. Wood becoming president and treasurer in later years. When the company began in 1882, it printed ledgers, blank books, stationery and small forms. As technology changed, Commonwealth adapted. Commonwealth led the Worcester industry in the 1950s and 1960s, become the first company to use a two-color offset press, the first to offer a profit-sharing plan and the first with a photocomposition system. In the 1970s Commonwealth installed the first sheet-fed four-color offset press in Worcester. By the 1980s the company specialized in short-run full-color printing. In 1989, suffering from a weak printing market and a large debt, Commonwealth filed for Chapter 11 protection against creditors under the U. S. Bankruptcy Code. It went out of business soon after this.

W. B. Crombie Co.
W. B. Crombie Company was founded by Willilam Bulkley Crombie in 1913. Mr. Crombie, born in 1871, began as an apprentice in the printing business as a boy, moving from Nebraska to Springfield, Massachusetts, then to Brattleboro, Vermont and finally settling in Worcester in 1905. He worked for Blanchard Press until the company was sold to Commonwealth Press. The company was located on Foster Street in Worcester. W. B. Crombie did all kinds of printing, including catalogs and stationery, and also did binding and engraving.

Davis Press
In 1886, George Sanford and Gilbert G. Davis formed a partnership, taking over the business of Franklin Printing Company;, which was established in 1856. In 1890 Davis bought out the partnership. Davis, Commonwealth Press and J. S. Wesby constructed the 7-storey Printers Building at 44 Portland Street together in 1923. In 1989 Davis Press was bought by the Lafayette Group.

Gazette Company
The Worcester Evening Gazette was founded in 1866, when Charles Chase purchased the Worcester Daily Transcript. In 1896 Charles H. Doe, part owner of the company, sold his interest in the newspaper to a group of prominent Worcester Republicans known as the Gazette Company, including Stephen Salisbury, A. George Bullock, Philip Washburn Moen and Josiah Clarke. The Evening Gazette expanded in 1938, building an addition to its plant on Federal Street, which housed new, modern high-speed presses and a photo-engraving room. Again in 1962, The Evening Gazette installed new equipment made up of six Scott high-speed, straight-line presses, with two heavy-duty doubled folders. And once again, in 1992, the newspaper, now the Telegram & Gazette, installed two new state-of-the-art Goss Flexoliner presses at its production plant in the Millbury Industrial Park near Route 20.

Moses W. Grout
Moses Grout ran a book and fancy printing office opposite Thomas's Coffee House in Worcester. An advertisement stated that Grout had taken the office of the National Aegis. In 1830 he became publisher of the National Aegis.

Charles Hamilton
Charles Hamilton was a book, job and card printer in Worcester. He was born in Barre in 1828 and worked for the Barre Gazette before coming to Worcester in 1844 and working for printers there. In 1849 he formed a partnership with Albert Tyler and bought the print shop of Benjamin Dodge. Two years later, Hamilton bought out Tyler, and later his two sons joined his business. The company continued as "Charles Hamilton" until 1906.

Harrigan Press
In 1894, John Francis Harrigan formed the partnership of Harrigan & King. He had apprenticed in New York City beginning in 1883 at the "New York Home Journal." In 1885 he came to Worcester and worked as a journey man printer until 1894. In 1897, Mr. Harrigan bought out his partner and his brother, Benjamin E. Harrigan joined him as the partner and the name became Harrigan Brothers. In 1912 the company was incorporated as Harrigan Press. By the time Charles Nutt's Worcester history was written Harrigan Press, according to Mr. Nutt, had one of the largest plants in the city. It did job and book printing, with a specialty of school and college books.

National Aegis
The National Aegis was a weekly newspaper established in 1801. Its first editor was Francis Blake (until 1804), and under his guidance the paper supported Thomas Jefferson and the Republican Party, and also included a page of literary essays in each issue. Henry Rogers owned it from 1807 to 1826, and in 1833 it merged with the Massachusetts Yeoman and later the Worcester Palladium. In 1834 it stopped being printed, but in 1838 Henry Rogers started it up again, and sold it to Thomas W. Butterfield in 1839. The National Aegis merged with The Daily Morning Transcript and became the Aegis and Gazette. The Aegis and Gazette ceased printing in 1896.

Sheppard Envelope Co.
The Sheppard family founded the company in 1921. Lincoln Spaulding and Henry Sawin purchased the company in 1967. Mr. Spaulding is now Vice President of Marketing and his son, Brook, is the company's president. Sheppard Envelope was at One Envelope Terrace in Worcester until 2003, when the company moved just over the Worcester line to 33 Southbridge Street in Auburn. One of the company's specialties in the 1990s was two-way mailers. The company is a leader is small envelopes, such as credit card and floral envelopes. Sheppard's web site is http://www.sheppardenvelopes.com.

Stobbs Press
Charles R. Stobbs established Stobbs Press. The company was located at 16 Mechanic Street.

Swan Printers
Swan Printers was located at 311 Main Street.

Isaiah Thomas
Isaiah Thomas was one of the leading printers, publishers and booksellers in the United States. In 1770 Thomas established the newspaper The Massachusetts Spy in Boston. The paper promoted the cause of the American patriots. Before the Battle of Lexington, Thomas moved his press and types to Worcester, where he remained for fifty-six years. He had a printing and publishing business, as well as a paper mill, a bindery and bookshops. In 1802 he retired from the business, and wrote History of Printing in America, published in 1810. In 1812, he founded the American Antiquarian Society, which houses his library collection, papers, and newspaper files.



U. S. Envelope Co.
U. S. Envelope Co. was formed in 1898 when ten separate envelope companies joined to form the company. General offices were established in Springfield, Massachusetts, with several manufacturing facilities in Worcester. In the mid-1950s, U. S. Envelope employed over 1,000 workers in 4 factory buildings. Gradually, the work force in Worcester was reduced and plants were closed, as the company moved production closer to its markets and new plants were established in the South and West. By 1974, all the Worcester plants had closed and only fifteen employees remained, at the Grove Street machine shop.

Caleb Arnold Wall
Mr. Wall became an apprentice in 1837 at the age of sixteen at the Massachusetts Spy. In 1844 he went to Barre to start the Barre Patriot, but returned to the Spy soon after that. At the Spy he served at various times as editor, reporter and composing room manager. He was the owner of the newspaper at one time. He worked at the Spy until 1898. Mr. Wall wrote Reminiscences of Worcester, from the earliest period, historical and genealogical with notices of early settlers and prominent citizens and descriptions of old landmarks and ancient dwellings... This book, published in 1877, contains a history of the early printing industry in Worcester, as well as much general Worcester history.

West & Lee Game and Printing Company
This company was incorporated in 1873. The officers were Presbury West and George S. Lee. The company made toys and games and printed rules and catalogs of games.

George C. Whitney Company
In 1858, George Whitney's brother Sumner opened a wholesale stationery store at 218 Main Street. He and his wife sold their hand-made valentines at the store. Their brother Edward joined the business in 1859. After Sumner's death in 1861, Edward ran the business alone until 1863, when George joined him. In 1869, Edward withdrew from the partnership. Whitney's early valentines were very similar to those made by Esther Howland, also of Worcester. Both imported paper, used lace and flowers and stand-up parts. By 1888 George Whitney had bought out his main competitors and was producing his own embossed papers, ornaments and verses. The company moved to 67 Union Place and employed 175 full-time workers and 450 seasonal workers. George Whitney died in 1913, but his son, Warren Whitney, continued the business, with offices in New York, Boston and Chicago. In 1942 Warren Whitney liquidated the business, when it became difficult to get paper during World War II. Two online exhibits on the company can be viewed at
http://www.americanantiquarian.org/Exhibitions/Valentines/whitney.htm and
http://www.worcesterhistory.org/ex_valentines.html.

Woodbury & Company, Inc.
Woodbury & Company was founded by John C. Woodbury at his Park Avenue residence in Worcester. In 1880 John F. Kyes formed a partnership with John Woodbury, and the company name became Kyes and Woodbury. When Kyes retired in 1898, the name became Woodbury & Company. In 1901, Herbert E. Carlton became Woodbury's partner and the name became Woodbury-Carlton Company. When Carlton left the partnership, the name again became Woodbury & Company. The company stayed in the Woodbury family for all of its existence. In 1924 a new plant was constructed at Chadwick Square. In 1905, the company introduced photogravure letterheads as a specialty item. In 1915, the sky camera was invented, and Woodbury became known for its "bird's eye view" letterheads. Woodbury was also known for many first day covers, including a million produced in 1963 honoring John F. Kennedy after his death. In 1977 thermography was introduced, and in 1979 computerized typesetting equipment was installed and the electroplating facility was modernized. Woodbury & Company closed in 2002.

 

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